- Police Beat
- The Forecaster
CUMBERLAND — One incumbent and three newcomers are vying for two seats on the Town Council in the June 11 election.
Councilor Peter Bingham is not seeking re-election and is instead running for the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors.
Councilor Michael Edes is seeking a third term against Robert Vail, Geoff Michalak and Brian Cashin.
Cashin, a 10-year resident of the town, said he is “energized” to bring innovation and creative ideas to the council.
“I feel that yesterday’s solution may not solve tomorrow’s problems,” Cashin said, adding he hopes to provide a new perspective while working with other councilors.
Cashin said he values the “strong educational system” SAD 51 provides, but wants to see greater collaboration between the school district and town, particularly on capital programs, so they better coordinate spending.
For example, a new fire truck should not be funded at the same time the town must repay debt for a performing arts center, he said.
“By coordinating their capital requirements, and building a closer partnership as opposed to a competing atmosphere, I think we can have a much more cooperative spirit, and reduce the impact of the budget on the taxpayers,” Cashin said.
Cashin is part of a Cumberland Fire Department task force that aims to develop a community wellness program, which “could be extremely valuable, especially as our population continues to age,” he said.
Through his involvement with the town’s Aging in Place program, “I see the needs and issues that our elderly citizens face, especially on the tax side,” Cashin noted. “Enabling them to remain in their homes is a big objective.”
Affordable housing for young families is another concern. “We do have to keep a certain level of student population in order to make that (school system) effective, and continue to receive both the federal and state funding,” he said.
Edes, a lifelong Cumberland resident and current Town Council chairman, said he has brought administrative and organization skills to the council over the past six years.
“I’ve got some good historical knowledge, and I’m in line with what the vision is going forward,” Edes said.
Both the council and School Board have worked well in the past year to keep spending under control, he said, noting that taxpayers should see only a slight bump in their tax bills next year, if any.
While last year saw contention between the two panels, with the council adopting a resolution urging cuts to the school budget, this year “the lines of communication between both boards have really been opened up,” Edes said. “Everything’s a lot better than it was a year ago.”
An issue that continues to stir debate – relocation of the town’s sand and salt sheds, and compost and brush areas off the town’s crowded Public Works site – is one Edes said he wants finally settled. But he expressed confidence “we’re going to be able to do this within the next few months.”
Cumberland must also continue to broaden its commercial tax base, he said, to ease the burden on property taxpayers.
Michalak has spent 33 years in Cumberland, and has worked for the town’s Fire and Public Works departments. He said he has long had interest in serving on the council, and is now in a position where he has more time to invest.
He said he brings a background in business and financial analysis, as well as an ability to collaborate with others and build relationships.
“I’m a fresh set of eyes,” Michalak said. “I’m not tied to any committees … so you don’t get ‘well gee, we’ve always done it this way.'”
In business, he said, he’s “a firm believer that if you don’t innovate, you die. If we can’t innovate some of our processes, and some of the ways we do things … the characteristics of the town are definitely going to end up changing.”
The town needs to look at what it has for potential future tax revenue, as well as future capital expenses – to have a solid outlook at what upcoming expenditures it faces and how those will be funded, Michalak said.
“I think citizens don’t have a full picture of everything that’s coming up, whether it be infrastructure or schools,” he said.
While he doesn’t expect property taxes to be reduced, Michalak said he hopes the town can keep annual tax increases to a minimum.
He noted that there are many “people in their late teens, early 20s that want to remain in Cumberland, but financially it’s just not feasible,” and he hopes they and older residents alike will be able to remain in their homes.
Vail, who has spent more than 50 years in Cumberland, said he takes pride in being apart from the status quo. Vail said he’s someone who would bring fresh insight into how the council conducts its business, and ask questions and make changes.
People on fixed incomes seeking to control their expenditures can do so in a variety of ways, but their tax burden is out of their hands, Vail said.
“We still have to fund our municipalities and our schools, so I would be looking for some alternative solutions,” he said.
He said Cumberland and North Yarmouth need to review the School Administrative District 51 charter.
“It’s been 50-plus years … it’s time to look at the school, and the relationship between the two communities, and say, ‘is this working well, and beneficial to both communities?’,” he said. “And if it’s not, what changes should we make?”
Vail advocates regional planning, noting that a vacant, town-owned property near the railroad tracks on Tuttle Road – which the town considered at one point for housing – could serve as a terminal for a park-and-ride lot or a train station.
He also supports the creation of alternative energy resources in town, stating that “before I’d put another (housing) development in town, I’d put solar panels up. Let’s do something that benefits us.”
Residence: Wildflower Way
Occupation: Principal at Goldiva Goldens; former organizer, founder and board member at First Commons Bank; chief information officer at Fidelity Investments; and chief technology officer at Chase Manhattan Bank
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business from St. Francis College, Brooklyn, New York; MBA from Fordham University, New York.
Political/civic experience: Chairman, Cumberland Aging in Place; Cumberland firefighter/emergency medical technician; vice chairman, Central Fire Station Building Committee; president, Bulfinch Condominium Association
Residence: Edes Road
Family: Married, two children
Occupation: Retired from Maine State Police, now labor representative with the National Fraternal Order of Police
Education: Associate’s degree in criminal justice, University of Maine
Political/civic experience: Cumberland Town Council (two terms); president, Maine State Troopers Association; chairman, National Troopers Coalition; board member; Jobs for Maine’s Graduates; Falmouth-Cumberland Chamber of Commerce
Residence: Buds Trail
Family: Single, no children
Occupation: Product support consultant, Milton CAT (Caterpillar heavy equipment and power systems)
Education: Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management, University of Southern Maine.
Political/civic experience: Former Cumberland firefighter
Residence: Wild Way
Family: Married, two children, four grandchildren
Occupation: General contractor; formerly U.S. Navy, merchant marine officer
Education: Maine Maritime Academy (engineering)
Political/civic experience: Planning Board (15 years); School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors (15 years); Cool Cities, Comprehensive Plan, Ocean Access, and Assessment Review committees; Cumberland/North Yarmouth Lions Club